WEC 2019/20 team-by-team season preview

The final FIA World Endurance Championship season for the current generation of LMP1 cars kicks off this weekend at Silverstone. Jamie Klein is your guide to the runners and riders in all four classes.

Click on the image below to scroll through the teams.

Rebellion Racing – Rebellion R-13-Gibson

Photo by: FIA WEC

#1:  Gustavo Menezes,  Bruno Senna,  Norman Nato

#3:  Nathanael Berthon,  Pipo Derani,  Loic Duval (except Fuji)

Having initially slimmed down to a single car for the 2019/20 campaign, Rebellion made a last-minute decision to enter a second car for Silverstone, and will go in as heavy favourite to finish best of the rest behind Toyota. The big question is whether the revised EoT and handicap system allows the Swiss outfit to truly take the fight to Toyota as the season wears on, as CEO Calim Bouhadra has targeted. After losing Thomas Laurent (to Toyota), Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer (both to Porsche), Rebellion has recruited some high-quality replacements, including another ex-Audi LMP1 driver in Loic Duval, although the Frenchman won’t be available for Fuji.

Team LNT – Ginetta G60-LT-P1-AER

Photo by: Ginetta

#5:  Egor Orudzhev,  Ben Hanley,  Charlie Robertson

#6:  Chris Dyson (except Silverstone),  Guy Smith,  Mike Simpson

Silverstone only:  Oliver Jarvis

Ginetta is the only real unknown in LMP1 this season, the handsome-looking G60-LT-P1 having sat on the sidelines since last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. Now with AER power, the car has proven competitive enough in testing, but Team LNT lacks race experience, and even had to call on LMP2 squad Algarve Pro Racing to help run its cars at the Prologue. Beating sole non-hybrid rival Rebellion is likely to prove too much to ask for at Silverstone but the car has more development potential than the relatively mature R-13. Ex-SMP pilot Orudzhev and DragonSpeed IndyCar driver Hanley are both signed for Silverstone only, while Jarvis is a late stand-in for the injured Dyson.

Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050 Hybrid

Photo by: Toyota Racing

#7:  Mike Conway,  Kamui Kobayashi,  Jose Maria Lopez

#8:  Sebastien Buemi,  Kazuki Nakajima,  Brendon Hartley

Even if the revamped rules do end up forcing Toyota to concede the occasional win, it seems inconceivable that either Rebellion or Ginetta will seriously threaten the last LMP1 factory team still standing over a full season – although the handicaps could have a bearing on how the fight between the two Toyota crews pans out. The #7 drivers were desperately unlucky on a number of occasions last season, not least of all at Le Mans last year, and their quest for honours ought to be boosted by Fernando Alonso’s departure from the #8 line-up. How quickly ex-Porsche driver Hartley can get up to speed in the TS050 Hybrid could prove crucial.

United Autosports – Oreca 07-Gibson

Photo by: United Autosports

#22:  Filipe Albuquerque,  Phil Hanson,  Paul di Resta (except Fuji)

Fuji only:  Oliver Jarvis

On the evidence of the Prologue, United looks like it will be right up there fighting for LMP2 honours from the get-go. The late decision to switch from Ligier to Oreca chassis looks to have been vindicated already, and its driver line-up is a match for any other in the class, with Albuquerque and Hanson having already proven a very effective unit in the ELMS. United’s #22 car will be one of five cars running Michelin rubber, and the tyre war between the French brand and newcomer Goodyear could have a major bearing on its prospects.

Racing Team Nederland – Oreca 07-Gibson

Photo by: Racing Team Nederland

#29:  Giedo van der Garde,  Nyck de Vries (except Silverstone),  Frits van Eerd (except Shanghai)

Silverstone and Shanghai only:  Job van Uitert

Another team to have ditched a less competitive chassis (in this case Dallara) for the dominant Oreca, RTN has everything it needs to compete regularly at the head of the LMP2 field, except one crucial ingredient: a fast silver driver. While van Eerd made undeniable progress across the 2018/19 campaign, the Dutch supermarket magnate’s lack of speed compared to the ‘super-silvers’ of rival squads is always going to prevent the TDS Racing-run operation getting the results it would otherwise deserve. The one place where the team can really target a win is Shanghai as van Eerd steps aside for van Uitert, who has already proven about as quick a silver driver as they come. After testing both LMP2 tyre brands in Barcelona, RTN elected to stick with Michelins for the new season.

High Class Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson

Photo by: High Class Racing

#33:  Mark Patterson,  Kenta Yamashita,  Anders Fjordbach

Stepping up from the ELMS to the WEC this season, Danish outfit High Class faces a similar issue to RTN, in that Mark Patterson – the slowest of all the LMP2 drivers at the Prologue – is not at the level needed to be able to compete for wins. Fjordbach however is capable of a decent enough turn of speed, having represented the team in ELMS the last two years, while anyone who follows SUPER GT or Super Formula will be aware that Yamashita is a potential star in the making; how the Toyota protege fares this season will be one of the subplots to keep an eye on in the class. High Class is one of three squads running Goodyear tyres this season.

Signatech Alpine – Alpine A470-Gibson

#36:  Thomas Laurent,  Andre Negrao,  Pierre Ragues

The defending class champion may be in the unusual situation of only having one-third of its title-winning line-up back for the new season, but that ought not to prove too much of a hindrance. In place of the seasoned Nicolas Lapierre arrives Laurent, who shone in LMP2 machinery in 2017 before getting the call up to join Rebellion’s LMP1 squad last season, while returnee Ragues is a capable silver whose pace at the Prologue was encouragingly close to that of his teammates. Perhaps the biggest question mark for the squad, which continues on Michelins after swapping from Dunlops at the start of 2019, is whether Laurent will end up missing races to fulfil his Toyota reserve driver duties – in which case finding a suitably high-calibre replacement will be paramount.

Jackie Chan DC Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson

Photo by: FIA WEC

#37:  Ho-Pin Tung,  Gabriel Aubry,  Will Stevens

After coming so close to title glory in the 2018/19 superseason, the Jota-run Jackie Chan DC Racing outfit has to be regarded as among the favourites – perhaps the outright favourite – for the 2019/20 campaign, especially with ex-Formula 1 driver Stevens bolstering what was already a strong line-up after a couple of strong cameos last term. Another Goodyear runner, the Chinese-flagged entry’s prospects could hinge on the tyre war, but it has every right to feel confident heading to Silverstone after a dominant 1-2 finish last year using similar Dunlop rubber.

Jota Sport – Oreca 07-Gibson

Photo by: FIA WEC

#38:  Anthony Davidson,  Antonio Felix da Costa,  Roberto Gonzalez

Last year’s DragonSpeed LMP2 trio were set for a new campaign together after switching to JOTA over the off-season, but Pastor Maldonado was forced to drop out on the eve of the new campaign due to financial woes. The good news for ex-Toyota racer Davidson and the silver-rated Gonzalez is that Maldonado’s replacement, da Costa, is both quick and versatile, and should have little trouble getting used to prototype racing again after last driving an LMP2 car at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018 – although he may yet end up missing races if Formula E clashes persist. Expect the #38 machine, the third and final of the Goodyear runners, to be at the forefront come Silverstone.

Cool Racing – Oreca 07-Gibson

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

#42:  Nicolas Lapierre,  Antonin Borga,  Alexandre Coigny

Cool Racing, named after Coigny’s firm Cool Aviation, is relatively new to LMP2 – it only stepped up to the class in the ELMS this year after a couple of anonymous seasons in LMP3. Iradj Alexander partnered Coigny and Borga last year, but this year he moved into a sporting director role to make way for ex-Toyota LMP1 racer Lapierre, whose speed and experience has helped turn the Swiss squad into a serious contender. The Frenchman helped Cool score its first LMP2 podium at Barcelona just days before the Prologue, where he put the team fourth in class. That said, the WEC is a major step up in competitiveness and the inexperience of Coigny and Borga means podiums are likely to be beyond reach in normal circumstances.


Cetilar Villorba Corse – Dallara P217-Gibson

Photo by: FIA WEC

#47:  Andrea Belicchi, Roberto Lacorte,  Giorgio Sernagiotto

The Cetilar Racing name may be new to the WEC, but in reality it marks the return of AF Corse – the outfit responsible for operating Ferrari’s works GT programme – to the prototype ranks for the first time since 2014, when it ran an Oreca 03-Nissan for SMP Racing. Ex-Ligier manager Philippe Dumas will act as team principal, while Villorba Corse, the team that ran Belicchi, Lacorte and Sernagiotto together in the ELMS and at Le Mans, is no longer involved. The choice of car, a Dallara, remains the same, making Cetilar the only non-Oreca entry in the class, and sadly that’s likely to limit the Italian squad’s ambitions to little more than solid finishes – although you can expect it to be right up there in the speed traps.

AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE Evo

Photo by: Ferrari

#51:  James Calado,  Alessandro Pier Guidi

#71 Davide Rigon,  Miguel Molina

Ferrari is the only one of the three teams still standing in GTE Pro to have adjusted its driver line-up, with continued uncertainty surrounding potential Formula E clashes costing Sam Bird his seat. The good news for the Prancing Horse, however, is that Bird’s replacement Molina has already proven to be bang on the pace, the Spaniard setting the fastest in time in class during the Prologue. Calado reckons his partnership with Pier Guidi is even stronger than the one he had with Gianmaria Bruni and, coming off the back of Le Mans success, the #51 duo will be tough to beat – assuming the 488 enjoys a better Balance of Performance than last season, when it struggled badly with top speed at most tracks.

Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR-19

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

#91:  Gianmaria Bruni,  Richard Lietz

#92 Kevin Estre,  Michael Christensen

After only two seasons of WEC service, the 2017-spec Porsche 911 RSR has given way to an all-new model, which despite looking outwardly similar to its predecessor is 95 percent new. Any possible fears that the RSR-19 could suffer the same new-car BoP blues as Aston Martin and BMW did in the opening races of the 2018/19 superseason were dismissed at Barcelona, where Estre ended up within a whisker of the pace established by Ferrari. Defending the hard-fought 2018/19 title won’t be easy for the Weissach marque, but the RSR-19 should have a higher development potential than its rivals, while Estre and Christensen have established themselves as one of the strongest GTE pairings in recent memory.

Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage AMR

Photo by: FIA WEC

#95:  Nicki Thiim,  Marco Sorensen

#97:  Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin

After a season spent getting its new Vantage GTE up to speed, could Aston Martin return to the top of the pile in 2019/20? As well as an unfavourable BoP, the British marque was keen to underlinen that its early progress last season was hampered by its switch from Dunlop to Michelin tyres during the car’s development phase, something which contributed to its tendency to burn through tyres quicker than most. With both of Aston’s wins in 2018/19 having been rain-assisted, getting a dry-weather win on the board early on would be a promising sign for a title tilt. There are no changes on the driver front from last year, with both crews having taken a win apiece last season.

AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE Evo

Photo by: Ferrari

#54:  Thomas Flohr,  Francesco Castellacci, Giancarlo Fisichella

#83:  Francois Perrodo,  Emmanuel Collard, Nicklas Nielsen

AF has expanded to running two cars in GTE Am under its own name to accommodate Perrodo’s return to the category after two seasons in LMP2. The #54 car, which ran under the ‘Spirit of Race’ banner last season, features an unchanged line-up from last season, anchored by ex-F1 star Fisichella, and has to be considered the favourite among the Ferrari squads. The fortunes of the #83 car meanwhile will probably hinge on how well Perrodo can reacquaint himself with the cut and thrust of GTE racing, as his co-drivers were both more or less on the pace at the Prologue.

Team Project 1 – Porsche 911 RSR

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

#56:  Egidio Perfetti, Matteo Cairoli, David Heinemeier Hansson

#57:  Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga, Jeroen Bleekemolen

As in LMP2, only one-third of the 2018/19 title-winning GTE Am squad is back this season, with Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey both stepping down after taking superseason honours alongside Perfetti. The good news for the Norwegian is that his new co-drivers are equally capable of helping him to a championship: Cairoli having already proven his speed with Dempsey-Proton, while Heinemeier Hansson won the GTE Am title himself back in 2014. Keating meanwhile will be hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of having Le Mans class victory taken away in post-race scrutineering, bringing with him his two rapid teammates from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.


Red River Sport – Ferrari 488 GTE Evo

Photo by: Ferrari

#62:  Bonamy Grimes,  Johnny Mowlem, Charlie Hollings

Another car in the AF stable, Red River Sport is the name of the agency operated by 50-year-old sportscar veteran Mowlem, who has joined forces with Skyscanner founder Grimes to embark on a full WEC campaign for the first time in his career. The pair raced together in the Asian Le Mans Series last season in a TF Sport-run Aston Martin Vantage, scoring a single podium at Shanghai, but are under no illusions as to the scale of the challenge that lies ahead. Joining them is Hollings, another seasoned campaigner with experience in British GT, ELMS and the FIA GT3 series (now Blancpain GT Series).

MR Racing – Ferrari 488 GTE Evo

Photo by: Ferrari

#70:  Motoaki Ishikawa,  Olivier Beretta, Kei Cozzolino

In its first season in WEC, the AF-supported MR Racing outfit didn’t manage to better fifth in the GTE Am ranks, and in an expanded field Ishikawa’s lack of pace is likely to mean even matching that will be a struggle. Ex-Larrousse F1 pilot Beretta can at least be relied upon to be on the pace, while Japan-born Italian Cozzolino replaces Eddie Cheever III as he embarks upon a full WEC season for the first time, following a cameo with CarGuy Racing at Le Mans and a dominant Asian Le Mans campaign alongside owner-driver Takeshi Kimura and factory Ferrari man Calado.

Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

#77:  Matt Campbell,  Riccardo Pera,  Christian Ried

#88: Thomas Preining,  Gianluca Girauldi,  Ricardo Sanchez

Without losing all of their points midway through the 2018/19 season, Campbell and Ried would have almost certainly romped to the title, winning five races out of eight and often in dominant style. The pair return for a second campaign together, joined this time by Italian youngster Pera as Julien Andlauer has decided to focus on his Porsche Supercup and Carrera Cup Germany commitments instead. In the sister car, Preining moves across from Gulf Racing and is joined by two WEC newcomers – Lamborghini racer Girauldi and erstwhile Nissan GT Academy winner Ricardo Sanchez.

Gulf Racing – Porsche 911 RSR

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

#86:  Michael Wainwright, Ben Barker, Andrew Watson

Like MR Racing, Gulf didn’t muster a podium finish during the 2018/19 campaign, and breaching the top three for the first time since Shanghai 2017 is likely to prove a tall order for Wainwright, who is entering his fourth season at this level. Barker likewise remains in place for another season, and can always be trusted to deliver a useful turn of speed, while ex-McLaren GT junior Watson is stepping up GTE for the first time having assembled a fairly comprehensive CV at GT3 level, most recently with the Garage 59 Aston Martin squad.

TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage AMR

#90:  Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood, Jonathan Adam

TF goes into the new campaign with a brand-new car, having upgraded to the latest-generation Aston Martin Vantage GTE, and a striking new look, ditching its previous blue livery for a striking metallic red paintjob. There’s stability on the driver front, though, with Aston factory man Adam staying out on loan to join Yoluc, who established himself as one of the most impressive bronze-rated drivers last season, and Eastwood. After finishing second four times in 2018/19, a first class victory surely can’t be far away for the British outfit.

Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage AMR

#98:  Darren Turner, Ross Gunn,  Paul Dalla Lana

The WEC’s longest-standing driver trio in any class has been dissolved for the 2019/20 season, with Mathias Lauda and Pedro Lamy both stepping aside after four seasons of service alongside Dalla Lana. In their place arrive Turner, who returns to full-time WEC action after only contesting a part-time schedule in 2018/19, and youngster Gunn, a long-time Aston protege who has earned his move up to the big time. Like TF, the factory Aston team has switched to the new-generation Vantage, which should prove a match for the hitherto-dominant Porsches.

The WEC 4 Hours of Silverstone will be streamed live on Motorsport.tv. Click here for more coverage details.

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